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Alsup asks for answers

Some of you might have read about the lawsuit by a number of municipalities (including San Francisco and Oakland) against the major oil companies for damages (related primarily to sea level rise) caused by anthropogenic climate change. The legal details on standing, jurisdiction, etc. are all very interesting (follow @ColumbiaClimate for those details), but somewhat uniquely, the judge (William Alsup) has asked for a tutorial on climate science (2 hours of evidence from the plaintiffs and the defendents). Furthermore, he has posted a list of eight questions that he’d like the teams to answer.

It’s an interesting list. They are quite straightforward (with one or two oddities), but really, pretty much textbook stuff. Andrew Dessler made a quick stab at answering them on Twitter:

But I think we can do better. So what I propose is that we crowd-source the responses. They should be pithy, to the point, with references (not Wikipedia) and, preferentially, accompanied by a good graphic or two. If we can give a credible uncertainty to any numbers in the answer that’s a bonus. I’ve made a start on each, but further voices are needed. Put your response in the comments and I’ll elevate the best ones (giving credit of course) to the main post. If you have any other comments or edits to suggest, feel free to do so. The best of those will also be incorporated. [Update: I realise I can’t possibly incorporate all the good suggestions while still keeping this short. So be sure to read the comments too for additional material. Also, as I should have said to start with, the best responses to these kinds of questions (though not to these specifically) are to be found in the FAQ of the IPCC report, the Royal Society/National Academies report, and the US. National Climate Assessment science report.]

Alsup’s Questions:

  1. What caused the various ice ages (including the “little ice age” and prolonged cool periods) and what caused the ice to melt? When they melted, by how much did sea level rise?
  2. What is the molecular difference by which CO2 absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not?
  3. What is the mechanism by which infrared radiation trapped by CO2 in the atmosphere is turned into heat and finds its way back to sea level?
  4. Does CO2 in the atmosphere reflect any sunlight back into space such that the reflected sunlight never penetrates the atmosphere in the first place?
  5. Apart from CO2, what happens to the collective heat from tail pipe exhausts, engine radiators, and all other heat from combustion of fossil fuels? How, if at all, does this collective heat contribute to warming of the atmosphere?
  6. In grade school, many of us were taught that humans exhale CO2 but plants absorb CO2 and return oxygen to the air (keeping the carbon for fiber). Is this still valid? If so, why hasn’t plant life turned the higher levels of CO2 back into oxygen? Given the increase in human population on Earth (four billion), is human respiration a contributing factor to the buildup of CO2?
  7. What are the main sources of CO2 that account for the incremental buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere?
  8. What are the main sources of heat that account for the incremental rise in temperature on Earth?

Alsup’s Answers:

Note this is an updating text. Last edit: March 16, 2018

  1. The “ice ages” are the dominant cycles of change over the last 2.5 million years (Snyder, 2016):

    Ice age cycles from Snyder (2016)

    They vary in extent and duration. They generally were larger in the last 800,000 years, and the duration changed from about 40,000 years in the first half to about 100,000 years in the later period. It was discovered in the 1970s that the cycles were highly correlated to changes in the variability of the Earth’s orbit – the so-called Milankovich cycles (Hays, Imbrie and Shackleton, 1976). More recent work has shown that the growth and collapse of the ice sheets is strongly tied to the incoming solar radiation (insolation) at high latitudes (Roe, 2006):

    The magnitude of the cycles is strongly modified by various feedbacks, including ice-albedo, dust, vegetation and, of course, the carbon cycle which amplify the direct effects of the orbital changes. Estimates of the drivers of global temperature change in the ice ages show that the changes in greenhouse gases (CO2, methane and nitrous oxide) made up about a third of the effect, amplifying the ice sheet changes by about 50% (Köhler et al, 2010).

    The sea level changes over these cycles was large. The difference between the last glacial maximum (20,000 yrs ago) and today is about 120 meters (400 ft), but the high levels during some of the warmest interglacials were 6-9 meters (20 to 30 feet) higher than today. These changes are dominated by the amount of ice volume change.

    The so-called “Little Ice Age” was a cooling of the Northern Hemisphere climate (and possibly less markedly in the Southern Hemisphere) in the period of the fourteenth century to the the 1850’s, approximately. It came after a period of a relatively warm climate called the Medieval Warm Period. The cause of this relatively short lived cooling (it was not a true “ice age”) is likely due to an increase in volcanic eruptions and with some role for a slightly reduced solar activity. Over the Holocene (last 11,000 yrs) there is a small but persistent cooling trend due to the orbital cycles mentioned above.

  2. Greenhouse gases are those that are able to absorb and emit radiation in the infrared, but this is highly dependent on the gases molecular structure. Vibrational modes in molecules with three or more atoms (H2O, CO2, O3, N2O, CH4, CFCs, HFCs…) include bending motions that are easier to excite and so will absorb and emit low energy photons which coincide with the infrared radiation that the Earth emits. Thus it is these molecules that intercept the radiation that the Earth emits, delaying its escape to space. More detailed discussion including the importance of the gases dipole moment can be found here. Diatomic molecules (like N2 or O2) have stretching modes (with the distance between the two molecules expanding and contracting), but these require a lot of energy (so they absorb only at higher energies. Some absorption is possible in the infrared due to collisions but calculations suggest this is a very small part (~0.2%) of the overall greenhouse effect (around 0.3 W/m2, compared to a total effect of 155 W/m2) (Höpfner et al, 2012).

    Figure showing the vibrational modes for CO2. Arrows indicate the directions of motion. Vibrations labeled A and B represent the stretching of the chemical bonds, one in a symmetric (A) fashion, in which both C=O bonds lengthen and contract together (in-phase), and the other in an asymmetric (B) fashion, in which one bond shortens while the other lengthens. The asymmetric stretch (B) is infrared active (allowed by quantum mechanics) because there is a change in the molecular dipole moment during this vibration. Infrared radiation at 2349 (4.26 um) excites this particular vibration. The symmetric stretch is not infrared active, and so this vibration is not observed in the infrared spectrum of CO2. The two equal-energy bending vibrations in CO2 (C and D) are identical except that one bending mode is in the plane of the paper, and one is out of the plane. Infrared radiation at 667 (15.00 um) excites these vibrations. (source)

  3. The Earth’s surface emits infrared radiation. This is absorbed by greenhouse gases, which through collisions with other molecules cause the atmosphere to heat up. Emission from greenhouse gases (in all directions, including downwards) adds to the warming at the surface.

    The figure shows the easiest mathematical description of the greenhouse effect. The downward radiation from greenhouse gases can be easily measured at the surface in nights under clear skies and no other heat sources in the atmosphere (e.g. Philipona and Dürr, 2004).

  4. Yes, but not enough to matter. The latest update to the estimates of radiative forcing of CO2 (Etminan et al., 2016) shows a shortwave effect (i.e. a change in the absorption of downward solar radiation) is about -0.14 W/m2 for CO2 going from 389 to 700 ppm (compared to 3.43W/m2 in longwave forcing) – contributing to about a 4% decrease in the net forcing.
  5. Direct heat generated by the total use of fossil fuels and other forms of energy adds up to about 18TW [IEA,2017]. Spread over the planet that is 0.04W/m2. Compared to anthropogenic forcings since 1750 of about 2.29±1.1W/m2 [IPCC AR5, Figure SPM 5], it’s about 1/100th the size. Locally however (say in cities or urban environments), this can be more concentrated and have a bigger impact.
  6. The grade school calculation is still valid. All animals (including humans) breathe in oxygen and exhale CO2. The carbon in the exhaled CO2 comes from the food that the animals have eaten, which comes (ultimately) from carbon that plants have taken from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. So respiration is basically carbon neutral (it releases CO2 to the atmosphere that came from the atmosphere very recently). Plants do take up CO2 as they are growing. With higher CO2 concentrations (and higher temperature), plants in fact increase their CO2 uptake somewhat but not as much as would be needed to absorb all the human-caused emissions. Of these emissions only about a quarter is absorbed by plants, while another 20% is absorbed by the oceans, but about half of the emissions stay in the atmosphere.

    Note that any net change in biomass (whether trees, or cows or even humans) does affect atmospheric CO2, but the direct impact of human population growth is tiny even though our indirect effects have been huge. For scale, the increase of 3 billion people over the last 40 years, is equivalent to:

    0.185 (fraction of carbon by mass) * 80 kg (average mass of a human) * 3 billion (additional humans) * 10-3 (conversion to GtC) / 40 years = 0.001 GtC/yr

    which, compared to current fossil fuel and deforestation emissions of ~10 GtC/yr is 4 orders of magnitude too small to be relevant.

  7. Main sources of human CO2 emissions are fossil fuel burning and (net) deforestation. This figure is from the Global Carbon Project in 2017.

  8. Prior to ~1750, atmospheric CO2 had been stable (within a few ppm) for millenia sustained by a balance between natural sources and sinks. This figure shows the changes seen in ice cores and the instrumental record.

  9. This is the biggie. What is the attribution for the temperature trends in recent decades? The question doesn’t specify a time-scale, so let’s assume either the last 60 years or so (which corresponds to the period specifically addressed by the IPCC, or the whole difference between now and the ‘pre-industrial’ (say the decades around 1850) (differences as a function of baseline are minimal). For the period since 1950, all credible studies are in accord with the IPCC AR5 statement:

    It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.

    The US National Climate Assessment attribution statement is a bit more specific than the one in IPCC:

    The likely range of the human contribution to the global mean temperature increase over the period 1951–2010 is 1.1° to 1.4°F (0.6° to 0.8°C), and the central estimate of the observed warming of 1.2°F (0.65°C) lies within this range (high confidence). This translates to a likely human contribution of 93%–123% of the observed 1951–2010 change. It is extremely likely that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 was caused by human influence on climate (high confidence). The likely contributions of natural forcing and internal variability to global temperature change over that period are minor (high confidence).

    This summary graphic is useful:

    Basically, all of the warming trend in the last ~60yrs is anthropogenic (a combination of greenhouse gases, aerosols, land use change, ozone etc.). To get a sense of the breakdown of that per contribution for the global mean temperature, and over a longer time-period, the Bloomberg data visualization, using data from GISS simulations is very useful.

    The difference in the bottom line for attribution for the last ~160 years is that while there is more uncertainty (since aerosol and solar forcings are increasingly shaky that far back), the big picture isn’t any different. The best estimate of the anthropogenic contribution is close to the entire warming. The potential for a solar contribution is slightly higher (perhaps up to 10% assuming maximum estimates for the forcing and impacts). In all cases, the forcing from anthropogenic greenhouse gases alone is greater than the observed warming.

    Figure 10.5 from IPCC. Assessed likely ranges (whiskers) and their mid-points (bars) for attributable warming trends over the 1951–2010 period due to well-mixed greenhouse gases (GHG), other anthropogenic forcings (OA) (mainly aerosols), natural forcings (NAT), combined anthropogenic forcings (ANT), and internal variability.

    The role of internal climate variability gets smaller as the time-scale increases, but needs to be accounted for in these assessments. Note too that this can go both ways, internal variability might have wanted to cool overall in one period, and warm in another.


  1. C.W. Snyder, "Evolution of global temperature over the past two million years", Nature, vol. 538, pp. 226-228, 2016.
  2. J.D. Hays, J. Imbrie, and N.J. Shackleton, "Variations in the Earth's Orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages", Science, vol. 194, pp. 1121-1132, 1976.
  3. G. Roe, "In defense of Milankovitch", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 33, 2006.
  4. P. Köhler, R. Bintanja, H. Fischer, F. Joos, R. Knutti, G. Lohmann, and V. Masson-Delmotte, "What caused Earth's temperature variations during the last 800,000 years? Data-based evidence on radiative forcing and constraints on climate sensitivity", Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 29, pp. 129-145, 2010.
  5. M. Höpfner, M. Milz, S. Buehler, J. Orphal, and G. Stiller, "The natural greenhouse effect of atmospheric oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2)", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 39, pp. n/a-n/a, 2012.
  6. R. Philipona, and B. Dürr, "Greenhouse forcing outweighs decreasing solar radiation driving rapid temperature rise over land", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 31, 2004.
  7. M. Etminan, G. Myhre, E.J. Highwood, and K.P. Shine, "Radiative forcing of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide: A significant revision of the methane radiative forcing", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 43, 2016.

247 Responses to “Alsup asks for answers”

  1. 101
    Radge Havers says:

    Ric Merritt @ ~ 82

    I’m not sure that going to Wikipedia etc. is more efficient for the court than a tutorial with certain questions specified, prepared and delivered by experts expressly for the hearing. (If that’s what you’re suggesting –otherwise skip this comment.) I’m not a lawyer so I feel unqualified to make too many assumptions about courtroom procedures, but I can well imagine that the tutorial session, with presentations from the respective view points of opposing councils, would establish a baseline and set a professional tone for the subsequent proceedings as well as to give insight as to how the participants think.

    By and large, you don’t get to be a judge by being a slouch, and I’m starting to get the sense that Judge Alsup has his share of gravitas. Looking at the questions he posed, I’d say that he’s probably already done some research; not just for the science but also for the nature and course of controversies. There’s no way of knowing for sure what is his intent, but you can’t discount the possibility that he’s several steps ahead of everybody else as to how things should be run in his courtroom.

  2. 102
    Alastair B. McDonald says:

    Phil @80,

    You wrote: “In addition the argument about mismatched frequencies is, I think, an intuitively obvious point.” It is not advisable to rely on intuition where quantum mechanics is concerned. IR absorption is a quantum mechanical effect.

    Moreover, you are wrong about the vibrational frequencies of oxygen and nitrogen molecules being outside the infrared range. Prof Rabett has diagrams showing N2 absorbing between 2100 and 2600 rcm (reciprocal centimeters) and O2 absorbing between 1400 and 1700 rcm. These are produced by the isotopologues 14N12N and 18O16O respectively as can be checked using SpectralCalc.

    Hank @xx is correct that O2 and N2 do absorb during collisions, but that is very weak, and is nor relevant when considering why N2 and O2 do not absorb. However, it does explain why Tyndall found weak absorption from O2 and N2, something that had puzzled me.

    The document you linked is about spectroscopy, not aborption, so that may be why you did not notice this passage:

    The first necessary condition for a molecule to absorb infrared light is that the molecule must have a vibration during which the change in dipole moment with respect to distance is non-zero. This condition can be summarized in equation(2) form as follows:

    du/dx /= 0.

    where du = change in dipole moment and dx = change in bond distance

    Vibrations that satisfy this equation are said to be infrared active. The H-Cl stretch of hydrogen chloride and the asymmetric stretch of CO2 are examples of infrared active vibrations. Infrared active vibrations cause the bands seen in an infrared spectrum.

    The symmetric stretch of CO2 does not satisfy that condition and is not IR active. (However, it can take part in combination bands.) Both N2 and O2 only have one mode of vibration, symmetric stretch and hence are not IR active.

    There is a common belief that a molecule has to contain three or more atoms to absorb radiaiton. This is wrong as stated by Paula & Atkins and shown in examples in the web page cited by you which uses examples of heterogeneous diatomic molecules.

  3. 103
    Anisimov says:

    It was people, who used the fossil fuels to produce CO2.


    James Hansen, Pam Peterson, and Philip Duffy join us to discuss how the hesitancy among scientists to express the gravity of our situation is a major block to our understanding and response to climate change, The reticence arises from political pressure, institutional conservatism, so-called ‘objectivity’, aversion to controversy, etc.

    But when the data and the conclusions it leads to are alarming, isn’t it imperative that the alarm be transmitted publicly? Here is another facet of society’s apparent inability to assess and respond appropriately to the present immense, existential threat of climate change.

    Judge fix this problem? нет! what of now existential threat

    6 видов оружия след.поколения которые Россия уже имеет, и которых нет ни у кого!

  4. 104
    jgnfld says:


    Sheldon almost precisely recapitulates the tobacco industry arguments as cases concerning damage finally became real for the tobacco industry in the late 70s and on.

    From one internal memo in the tobacco archives:

    It is a “positioning” of smoking that accurately reflects the real state of scientific knowledge—and the freedom of choice that must be allowed to every citizen in a democratic society. . . . Freedom of choice is now a powerful appeal as a countertrend to the new willingness of the public to consider measures of repression. . . . It is, moreover, a specific rebuttal to the current campaign of the [American Cancer Society] for repressive measures.51(Bates no. 502124243)

    Here’s one from a litigation training manual for lawyers:

    In attempting to depict the benefits [of smoking] as real, we offer not only an explanation other than addiction for a plaintiff’s continued use of the product, but we legitimize choice.80(Bates no. 282013287–282013288)

    And here’s part of the opening statement by the tobacco lawyers in Cipollone v. Liggett, the first case to award damages to a smoker:

    Now, what the evidence will show is that Mrs. Cipollone smoked because she enjoyed smoking, it gave her a great deal of pleasure. She liked it. . . . Now, Rose Cipollone made that choice for herself. . . She did what she wanted to do. . . . This woman was a determined woman who was used to making choices for herself, not just with regard to smoking, but on other aspects of her life.

    The intent, of course, was to insulate the corporations from liability just as Sheldon is attempting to do here. The case gets even worse when we consider that fossil fuel interests have engaged in specific actions to LIMIT choice that would lead to using alternative sources of energy.

  5. 105
    jgnfld says:


    There have been many “nonvirtuous” scientists over the years. The problem for them is that the scientific method tends to find them out. Sometimes it takes many decades–Cyril Burt comes to mind. My own university handled the Chandra case of nonvirtuous research very poorly over a period of 15 years, yet even so his research is now recognized as fraudulent. These cases were both found out and corrected because of how the profession of science works.

    Essentially, the denier meme of “politicized science” reduces to the following:

    1. It is a projection on to scientists of what they themselves are doing. Or,in some cases–especially for the more politically/legally minded–it may not even be projection so much as thinking that scientists operate professionally in their world just like the politically/legally minded do in their own world. They are wrong, of course, as different professions operate under different rules and procedures. Especially politicians but also lawyers are very comfortable asserting one thing one day and the opposite the next with a straight face if it serves an overarching purpose. This just doesn’t work in the scientific world.

    2. It’s just another way–perhaps softer and for that reason more dangerous–of positing the global conspiracy to fudge data and install a liberal world govt or some such. The idea is if it’s a “party line” well then of course (party) scientists won’t cross it. Anywhere in the world. In all societies. In scientists of all stripes.

    Sorry Dan, but no. It just doesn’t work that way. Virtue–NO scare quotes this time (something you probably didn’t understand of Digby’s post)–is not a requirement. It is the long term expected outcome.

  6. 106

    DDS 100: “It is the structure of the scientific method that absolutely forces scientists to conduct their investigations in a “virtuous” way.”
    Wow, who else here believes that?
    Is that a common belief here at RealClimate?

    BPL: Note the argument from personal incredulity.

  7. 107
    Ray Ladbury says:

    On the “virtue” of scientists:

    It depends on which virtue. I’ve known more than a few scientists who were assholes–just not nice people. It has hurt them in science, but it was not fatal if they brought enough to their collaborations to make up for their unpleasantness.

    In terms of “honesty,” I am reminded of the reference letter a supervisor wrote that said that “this employee works well under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.” Scientific fraud is trivial to detect. As such, it is extremely rare, short-lived and invariably proves fatal to the scientist’s career as long as it is in a field anybody cares about. As a result, scientists tend to be mostly honest in their work.

    Likewise, errors in one’s work have a fairly high probability of being detected if anybody cares about that work. As such, scientists tend to be careful and conservative in their work.

    Finally, you don’t become a scientist if you want to become rich. You become a scientist because you are fascinated by a particular field and want to understand it. If you fudge your research, it will keep you from that understanding. Thus science rewards honesty and accuracy with the awards that matter most.

    Note that if the science is not driven by curiosity, this can distort the reward structure. Likewise, if the data are not open but held as proprietary secrets, that presents a threat to the science. The quintessential area of research where these threats exist is medical/drug research. And yet, even here, the result is sufficiently satisfactory that we–and this includes denialists like Dan DaSilva–are willing to entrust our very lives to them!

    Despite the hysterical allegations of the denialati, climate science is one of the most open and competitive branches of science. In order to believe the science is corrupt, you have to believe in a conspiracy so improbable that it would make Alex Jones blush.

  8. 108
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Sheldon W.: “The simple truth is that the oil companies did NOT use the fossil fuels to produce CO2.”

    That is not at issue. The cigarette companies did not burn the tobacco that caused all those cancers–in both smokers and nonsmokers. What they did do was cover up research–known to them–that showed their products had adverse consequences. Through propaganda masquerading as research, through outright bribes masquerading as campaign contributions to decision makers and through legal obfuscation, they prevented the democratic process from operating for the public good.

    The science–including the science done by the fossil fuel companies–has shown since at least 1988 that climate change could have severe consequences. The response of the fossil fuel companies was to subvert that knowledge. That is arguably a tort.

  9. 109
    Phil says:


    Moreover, you are wrong about the vibrational frequencies of oxygen and nitrogen molecules being outside the infrared range.

    I did not say this. I said they are (largely) outside the range of IR frequencies emitted by the Earth. See this figure (for example)

    and compare the frequencies with the HITRAN spectra in Eli’s article.

    I’m well aware of spectroscopic selection rules, thanks.
    O2 and N2 absorb IR due to short lived collision-induced complexes; there is a intro here.

  10. 110
    Omega Centauri says:

    Kevin @94, A few thoughts on the Coyote Creek *San Jose) flood.
    It was definitely precipitation, during the very wet 2016-2017 season.
    I think the bigger issue was poor local hydrology (science/engineering).
    The responsible officials relied on a formula for water height versus streamflow which was woefully too low. So when high flows were observed, they thought only minor flooding would ensue. Essentially no warnings were issued to residents in the flooded areas who for the most part found out when the water began pouring in.

  11. 111
  12. 112
    Mr. Know It All says:

    This 5 minute video explains how quantum mechanics causes global warming:

    108 – Ray L
    All cigarette smokers knew explicitly since – when was it – the 70s at least – that cigarettes may cause cancer – the government required the warning to be on every pack. They knew people who died of lung cancer from smoking. People smoked anyway.

    104 – jgnfld
    No, oil companies are not limiting energy choices. At least 1/2 of the population of the US believes that using FFs causes AGW, yet a huge majority of those people choose to drive to work when they could bike, take a bus, carpool, etc; and a similar high percentage could buy an electric car – they’re on the dealer showroom floors in every town in the country, but they choose to buy a FF car, or perhaps a half-and-half (a hybrid).

    Hurricanes, droughts, floods, wildfires have occurred since the earth started to look the way it does today. They’re nothing new – they are not more frequent, nor more severe than in the past.

  13. 113
    jgnfld says:


    Forgot to mention these quotes and much additional info can be found in Friedman, L. C., Cheyne, A., Givelber, D., Gottlieb, M. A., & Daynard, R. A. (2015). Tobacco Industry Use of Personal Responsibility Rhetoric in Public Relations and Litigation: Disguising Freedom to Blame as Freedom of Choice. American Journal of Public Health, 105(2), 250–260.

    quick link:

  14. 114
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 85

    Also among papers mentioned at this interesting site:

    (found by searching on the DOI to see who else has cited that paper)

  15. 115
    Hank Roberts says:

    For reference:

    What is ARTS?

    ARTS is a radiative transfer model for the millimeter and sub-millimeter spectral range. There are a number of models mostly developed explicitly for the different sensors. The basic principle for the development of ARTS is to provide a code that can be applied for many different applications concerning radiative transfer calculations in the microwave region. For this reason much emphasis has been placed on modularity, extendibility, and generality.

    ARTS is a community effort. The core development is done by the University of Hamburg and Chalmers University.

  16. 116
    Hank Roberts says:

    I recall here years ago someone (maybe Gavin?) commenting that many graduates with doctorates related to climatology found employment with the companies currently drilling for oil.

    Reason being: those companies use climate models to identify the likely current locations where ancient sedimentary basins originally formed that collected the organic material that eventually, with time, climate change, sediment accumulation and continental drift, became petroleum reservoirs.

    Meanwhile the PR departments of the same companies were claiming the climate models were too unreliable to, well, rely on.

    I imagine the companies also employed lawyer/bricklayers to maintain the walls between their private practice and their public statements. That way anything with a lawyer on the cc: list can be claimed as attorney-client privileged communications and hidden.

    That tactic was used extensively by the tobacco companies.

    My dad was a Duke University biologist for many years. I recall hearing (as a faculty brat hiding around the edges of faculty conversations) some of the faculty mention that some of the university scientists there never needed to — and could not — publish their work, because they were generously funded under confidentiality agreements by the Duke tobacco company. It was considered a rather unethical way to do science, by their peers.

    That’s still a concern. I’d guess there are parallels in climatology.

    The other tactic used was to send all tobacco/health information overseas out of reach of US legal processes.

  17. 117
    Hank Roberts says:

    Suggested thesis subject for someone in government/public health/sociology:

    Track down all the people who received PhDs related to climate science during the latter half of the 20th Century, see where they’ve ended up, contact them, and ask them if they’ve had any funding and disclosure issues.

  18. 118
    nigelj says:

    Mr. Know It All @110

    R ladbury said that the tobacco companies hid the dangers of smoking, and that arguably this was a tort. (It is imho).

    Mr KIA responded “All cigarette smokers knew explicitly since – when was it – the 70s at least – that cigarettes may cause cancer – the government required the warning to be on every pack. They knew people who died of lung cancer from smoking. People smoked anyway.”

    Despite this, the tobacco companies have been successfully sued for many million of dollars, on the basis that tobacco is dangerous and addictive and the companies denied this and hid evidence of the dangers from the public for many years, as below.

    It looks like government warnings do not resolve tobacco companies of liability.

    The following may also be part of the reason imho. The warnings on packets of tobacco were only required by law from 1965, and people were smoking well before then. The tobacco companies knew of the dangers well before the 1960s but never informed the public, and the companies disputed emerging scientific evidence of the risks.

    Carbon emissions are similar, in that the fossil fuel companies have allegedly long known of the problem, shown in various leaked documents, but denied the problem publicly. There were certainly no “warnings” on their products. It’s a classic case of possible negligence. The case looks rather strong, especially as costs of insurance claims have been increasing, and its not all attributable to simply more expensive buildings etc. It will all be most interesting.

  19. 119
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mr. KIA,
    Wow, somebody who missed two entire decades of smoking litigation. Plaintiffs demonstrated and defendants stipulated that they had suppressed research showing:
    1) The extent of cancer, lung and heart disease risk to the smoker.
    2) The addictive nature of tobacco and the extent to which the tobacco companies worked to increase nicotine levels to maintain addiction.
    3) The risks of second hand smoke for nonsmokers.

    Or are we to believe that tobacco companies are paying billions because of their overwhelming civic spirit? Seriously, before you post this crap, do you say it out loud to someone to see if they burst out laughing? Just a suggestion.

  20. 120

    KIA, #112–

    “All smokers explicitly knew… people smoked anyway…”

    You distort what happened. By the 70s everybody had heard that some research had associated cancer and smoking. However, tobacco companies mounted a concerted disinformation campaign to, well, deny those findings. It was well-funded and extremely persistent.

    Indeed, last I heard, some of the ‘usual suspects–Steve Milloy of “Junk Science” comes to mind–are still beating the tobacco-cancer denial drum. He is also a longstanding climate change denialist. And I see that the Heartland Institute and even Fox News have had relatively recent spasms of recidivism in this regard:

    Smoking rates began to decline in the mid-70s nevertheless, though slowly at first. The breakthrough year was arguably 1988, when Republican Surgeon General Everett Koop took on the issue with a full-frontal assault in his famous Report.

    Fossil fuel companies have, in fact, attempted to restrict choice. They’ve done it through public disinformation campaigns precisely parallel (and in fact explicitly modeled on the tobacco campaigns, and in some cases carried out by the same propagandists (Milloy, or Fred Singer are examples).

    They’ve done it through politically ‘weaponized philanthropy’–to use Jane Mayer’s phrase from the revealing book “Dark Money”–which has bought them–well, I was going to say “unfettered access to government,” but reflecting on the choices of a Scott Pruitt, a Donald Trump, and a Rick Scott, I have to say “nearly complete control of Federal energy policy.”

    You also say that:

    a huge majority of those people choose to drive to work when they could bike, take a bus, carpool, etc; and a similar high percentage could buy an electric car – they’re on the dealer showroom floors in every town in the country, but they choose to buy a FF car, or perhaps a half-and-half (a hybrid).

    I disagree across the board. First, decades of suburban development have separated residences so pervasively from employment districts that a ‘huge majority’ have little choice except to commute by car. Yes, some can find the ‘outs’ (cycling) or at least incremental improvements (carpooling) you mention; but there are numerous barriers and costs associated with them which drive down adoption. It’s a problem of systemic structure primarily, not a problem of individual choice.

    Second, it’s simply not true that electric vehicles are widely available on a national basis. Although basically all manufacturers offer a model, the majority are ‘compliance cars’, made in tiny numbers and available only in states (such as California) where they are required to do so. When models are available, dealerships tend not to push them, partly out of inertia and ignorance of their characteristics, and partly out of fears that more-reliable electric drive trains will cut into service revenues.

    Of all major manufacturers, GM is probably the one making the most serious efforts toward a true commercial EV. Their Bolt offers 230+ miles on a charge but still costs $36k+ for a subcompact vehicle. (Badly in need of manufacturing scale to bring prices down.) Unlike most of its competitors, it is available nationally (though most dealerships don’t actually have one on the lot, they can get it if a customer is insistent enough). It’s in its second model year, essentially, and sold about 23,000 units in 2017.

    Yet if I search the Chevy dealerships in my state capital, Columbia, SC, I find not one on the car lots, according to the Chev website.

    Let’s compare that to the Prius. It debuted all the way back in 1997, and was subject to much skepticism and ridicule. Today, however, it is available in 90 countries and there are over 6 million of them on the road. It is, however, past its peak (2010 globally, 2012 in the US). Partly, I suspect, that is due to increased competition by EVs–for instance, the Nissan Leaf (of which there are now in excess of 300,000 on the road globally, despite its historically limited range) came out in 2010.

    Will vehicles like the Bolt or the Tesla Model 3 or even the Nissan Leaf (which now, in the higher trim line, has an official EPA range of 135 miles, and is selling for about $30k) follow the trajectory of the Prius? Not if the whole automotive paradigm shifts as some anticipate, with the convergence of electric and autonomous technologies.

    But all of this gets us back again to systems. Individual choice is certainly part of the evolution of our mobility sytems, but is not the only determinative factor in the mix; technological, economic and policy factors play big roles, too.

  21. 121

    KIA, #112–

    Hurricanes, droughts, floods, wildfires have occurred since the earth started to look the way it does today. They’re nothing new –


    …they are not more frequent, nor more severe than in the past.

    Incorrect, irrelevant, or misleading.

    1) Hurricanes: are expected, with good reason, to become more severe (albeit a bit less frequent) in the future, and this may be happening now (though it’s tough to make the statistical case because the data is so noisy.) For instance, Holland and Bruyere (2014):

    We find no anthropogenic signal in annual global tropical cyclone or hurricane frequencies. But a strong signal is found in proportions of both weaker and stronger hurricanes: the proportion of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased at a rate of ~25–30 % per °C of global warming after accounting for analysis and observing system changes. This has been balanced by a similar decrease in Category 1 and 2 hurricane proportions, leading to development of a distinctly bimodal intensity distribution, with the secondary maximum at Category 4 hurricanes. This global signal is reproduced in all ocean basins.

    2) Drought is not easy to characterize by global measures; not only is data quality and coverage sometimes problematic, definitional issues are highly significant, as several types of droughts are recognized and studied. Notably, definitions of drought based upon rainfall fail to recognize the potential impact of increasing rates of soil evaporation with warming.

    For instance:

    Trends in European SPI-6 and SPEI-6 drought area have been moderate, with a slight decrease in precipitation-only drought (SPI) area and a slight increase in climatic water balance drought (SPEI) area. The observed spatial trends in drought frequency are consistent with climate model output, with increases in drought frequency for southern Europe and decreases across northern Europe. However, the difference between percentage drought area measured using these two indices has steadily increased. Investigating the constituent climate variables shows that the increasing divergence between drought measured by SPI and SPEI is driven by an increase in temperature and thus PET, which is only accounted for in the SPEI. The divergence between drought indices remains nearly constant across Europe, regardless of the overall trend in drought frequency. This suggests that increased temperature and PET have exacerbated the recently intensifying Mediterranean droughts, while also partially counteracting precipitation increases in northern Europe. The drought trends identified are vital for water resources planning, whereas the divergence between trends in the SPI and SPEI highlights the importance of the drought index used in a non-stationary climate.

    One 2013 study using a standard precipitation-based metric, SPI, Spinoni et al., nevertheless found that:

    A linear trend analysis between 1951 and 2010 shows a small global increase in each drought component, but drought frequency decreased in the Northern Hemisphere. The increase in drought frequency, duration, and severity is found to be significant in Africa, Eastern Asia, Mediterranean region, and Southern Australia, while the Americas and Russia show a decrease in each drought component.

    3) Floods do appear to have increased, and certainly heavy precipitation has:

    Heavy precipitation has increased worldwide, but the effect of this on flood magnitude has been difficult to pinpoint. An alternative approach to analysing records shows that, in the central United States, floods have become more frequent but not larger.

    Roughly parallel results in Europe:

    4) Wildfire increase the US is highly observable by eyeball: in 2015, a record-high 0,125,149 acres burned, and total nearly matched by last year’s 10,026,086. (2017 was also unusually lethal and costly, as we all know, though in large part that is due to ignorance and stupid policy, not climate.) The previous record, 9,873,745 acres, dates only from 2006; it was the first year to crack 9 million acres, a benchmark also reached in 2007 and 20012.

    This has also been shown in the professional literature for the US west:

    Note that when I say “record-high” I’m referring to the modern era of wildfire fighting; the all-time high actually occurred in the very first year of NIFC statistics, 1931, when over 50 million acres burned. Complete fire suppression became official Park Service policy in 1935, and increasing scope and sophistication produced drastic decreases in acreage burnt. The last 9-million acre burn year prior to the modern era was back in 1953–coincidentally, the year my parents were married.

    Increasingly since the 1970s, policy has been to managed rather than suppress fire, since it is a part of the natural ecology, and some species depend on wildfire as part of their life cycle.

    So policy has had a big effect on wildfire acreage, but we can see that the increases observed aren’t just a matter of choice by several observations. One is that wildfire fighting has become a severe burden on agency budgets. Another is the increasing economic loss. And a third is that increased exposure to wildfire risk is both observable, and clearly tied to climate change. For example, Jolly et al. (2015) on global exposure:

    We show that fire weather seasons have lengthened across 29.6 million km2 (25.3%) of the Earth’s vegetated surface, resulting in an 18.7% increase in global mean fire weather season length. We also show a doubling (108.1% increase) of global burnable area affected by long fire weather seasons (>1.0 σ above the historical mean) and an increased global frequency of long fire weather seasons across 62.4 million km2 (53.4%) during the second half of the study period. If these fire weather changes are coupled with ignition sources and available fuel, they could markedly impact global ecosystems, societies, economies and climate.

    You can find ‘skeptical’ accounts of contemporary wildfire trends, such as this:

    IMO, this discussion begs the question of the interaction of policy and climate change in determining wildfire outcomes–it seems quite possible and perhaps even likely, based on their discussion, that increasing wildfire suppression effort on a global scale is counteracting increasing exposure to wildfire risk.

  22. 122
    Anderlan says:

    I notice the jump at 10,000 years ago. I wonder if that is connected to agriculture? I realize that time is largely uncharted. I guess the uptick is probably from deglaciation-related CO2 transfer; then the later very gradual slope over time from 10,000 years until practically just now is consistent growth (over time, with waxing and waning) in population and agriculture.

  23. 123
  24. 124
    Keith Woollard says:

    Obviously this thread has taken a bit of a detour down the tobacco road, and that is fine. This really highlights the differences between the two issues and why there is so much public disbelief in the impending catastrophe.

    If the lawyers and plaintiffs walked into the civil tobacco cases smoking the whole time, do you think the result would have been the same?

    If CO2 emissions are such an issue, don’t do it!!!! Let’s not start suing companies, and trying to get governments to impose laws and taxes – just stop. I don’t mean cut back, I mean stop. Sell your car, get rid of central heating and aircon, walk/cycle to work or telecommute, don’t get on a plane…. ever! Until you do these things, people will not trust you.

    If doctors said “smoking gives you cancer, and so we have cut back from 2 packets a day to one and half packets of lights” would you believe them?

    Any authority that says one thing and does the opposite will be scorned

  25. 125
    nigelj says:

    K McKinney, you have made good suggestions on explaining ice ages etc, except I think its unwise to start including equations on radiation etc. The judge probably won’t be able to follow this sort of university level science material, and could get annoyed.

    If the judge does get it, he or she may start asking questions about how the equations are derived which will create more things to have to justify, and will remove discussion even futher away from the damage climate change is causing.

  26. 126

    KW: Any authority that says one thing and does the opposite will be scorned

    BPL: If your doctor tells you lung cancer causes cancer, but he’s a smoker, he must be wrong. Same alleged logic.

  27. 127

    #125, Nigel–Thanks, but you must have missed Hank’s ‘know your judge’ posts, in which he revealed that Judge Alsup is a former engineering student and current ham radio operator who also enjoys coding in his spare time. My goal was to present enough material that you could understand the diagram without linking to the previous RC post from which it was drawn.

  28. 128
    barry says:


    If CO2 emissions are such an issue, don’t do it!!!! Let’s not start suing companies, and trying to get governments to impose laws and taxes – just stop. I don’t mean cut back, I mean stop. Sell your car, get rid of central heating and aircon, walk/cycle to work or telecommute, don’t get on a plane…. ever! Until you do these things, people will not trust you.

    No one had to wear a gas mask to get Clean Air Acts passed, and the Montreal Protocol was ratified by people who had refrigerators and used spray-on deodorant.

    The issue and solution is structural.

    It’s near impossible to go completely carbon free on an ordinary budget. Eschewing carbon energy entirely would doom you to have no voice. No planes, no TV interviews, no computers (made of fossil fuels!) no public platform connected with fossil fuels in some way – which is every platform except the box in the park.

    Submissions to Judge Alsup will have to be scratched on hand-made parchment with a quill and home-made ink. If handicapping a movement to mitigate fossil fuels is your desire, that was a fine suggestion.

  29. 129
    jgnfld says:


    Uh, are you trying to say there is no dose response curve between tobacco amounts and various consequences?

    If you are you’d be wrong.

    just one link of many…

    plus see refs in article.

  30. 130

    A tought about the so called bending of the CO2 – molecule.
    The centers of the three atoms form a triangle, so the bending oscillation of two bonds are the distance oscillations of the third.
    I think a better view is that of vibrational oscillations in all three bonds, but with a vastly different bond stiffness: the two O-C bonds are very stiff, resulting in high frequency oscillations, while the O-O bond is rather slack, or weak, resulting in a comparatively low oscillation frequency.

  31. 131
    Hank Roberts says:

    Until you do these things, people will not trust you.

    You’re being really boring, KW.

  32. 132
    Hank Roberts says:

    nigelj says: … The judge probably won’t be able to follow this sort of university level science material

    Bless your heart, Nigel, did you pass the ham radio Amateur Extra class test>? Judge Alsup did.

  33. 133
    Racetrack Playa says:

    Last-minute PR effort by the usual denialist suspects:

    “On Monday, the judge said he had received two “friend of the court” briefs and told the two groups of contrarians to each file a statement by the close of business on Tuesday declaring who paid for their research, whether they received support from anyone “on either side of the climate debate,” and whether any of them were “affiliated in any way (directly or indirectly)” with parties to the litigation.””

    “And why, he asked, did they wait so long to present their documents, limiting the time for others to respond to them?”

    Soon is still at it, that’s pretty sad. Whatever happened to his predictions of plunging Arctic temperatures after the last sunspot cycle?

  34. 134
    Hank Roberts says:

    Day in court is tomorrow, March 21st
    — KQED radio

    Reporter says the oil companies will not debate the science and will try to have the case thrown out.

    I hope someone’s going to be live-blogging from the courtroom, or at the least taking notes to write it up afterwards.

  35. 135
    Dennis says:

    It’s great to see San Francisco and Oakland California stepping up and suing major oil companies, demanding accountability for water levels rising from Climate Change. I can’t stand how people turn a blind eye to such a monumental issue, especially when there are so many available and free resources to answer any question you may have about Climate Change, and what you can do to lessen your footprint. I have even seen, and use eco-friendly apps on my phone that give me 24/7 access to information about reducing my own damage to the planet. With the amount of information you have presented here, and with all of the information that we all have access to, the human race really has no excuse for what we are doing to our environment.

  36. 136
    nigelj says:

    K McKinney @127 and Hank Roberts @132, yes I missed that the judge has a technical background. It would really have helped if the article had stated these things clearly right at the beginning.

  37. 137
    nigelj says:

    Keith Woolard

    “If CO2 emissions are such an issue, don’t do it!!!! Let’s not start suing companies, and trying to get governments to impose laws and taxes – just stop. I don’t mean cut back, I mean stop. Sell your car, get rid of central heating and aircon, walk/cycle to work or telecommute, don’t get on a plane…. ever! Until you do these things, people will not trust you.”

    One of the problems will all this is no one individual wants to make changes or sacrifices until everyone does, so nobody moves. This is why carbon taxes make sense, as they help push everyone along in unison by sending everyone a price signal that’s hard to ignore.

    And individual action by the general public wont be enough to change electricity generation from fossil fuels to renewables. Only laws and subsidies will work, and the UK is a good example.

  38. 138
    Russell says:

    How long has Keith been boycotting scientific works written by smokers?

  39. 139
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hey, this is relevant news:

    On March 1, U.S. District Judge William Alsup requested that the United States study these lawsuits and file a friend-of-the-court brief that would be due 10 days after briefing is completed on anticipated motions to dismiss filed by the various fossil fuel companies.

    The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    “The United States is invited to read the complaints, motions to dismiss, and oppositions and to submit an amicus brief on the question of whether (and the extent to which) federal common law should afford relief of the type requested by the complaints,” Alsup wrote.
    [cited to:

    Block quote from:

  40. 140
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oops. broken link.

    The Alsup quote in the Forbes article is cited to:
    which links to: Case 3:17-cv-06012-WHA Document 118 Filed 03/01/18 Page 1 of 2

  41. 141
    Keith Woollard says:

    BPL @ 126

    You have absolutely, completely missed the point.
    I am not saying anything about right, wrong, proof or science.

    If I were in the sixties or seventies (like I was) and a cancer researcher told me that smoking caused cancer but continued to smoke, I would be far less inclined to trust them.

    Dr Mann has said Climate change is ‘…the greatest threat we face as a civilization’. If this is the case, then surely he should do everything in his power to not produce CO2 – regardless of what other people do.

    How would you view a gun control advocate who said “I may as well have 5 guns in my house because there are so many in the USA already” ???

  42. 142
    Keith Woollard says:

    Barry @ 128
    Good point, thank you for an intelligent reply

  43. 143
    Keith Woollard says:

    As for #129 – I will just shake my head in disbelief. I am not saying anything about the smoking-cancer link. If you have someone trying to tell you something is a dangerous issue, and they continue to do it, I would believe them less.

    And #138 – what are you talking about?

  44. 144
    Eli Rabett says:

    So, Eli Rabett explains it all about question 2, whether N2 and O2 play a role in the greenhouse effect. A three parter with some TL:DRs below

    A bit on observations and spectroscopy: showing that the collision free absorption of O2 and N2 can be ignored. Just too small

    A discussion about the physics of molecular spectroscopy:
    Shifts the balance from the qm selection rules to how molecules interact with electromagnetic radiation (e.g. IR or light). Discusses how changes in charge distributions during transitions determines whether photons are absorbed or emitted. Makes contact with electromagnetic antenna theory, eg electric dipole allowed transitions w. dipole antennas, etc.

    Collisional effects
    Starting from the quantum interlude discusses (much paw-waving) how collisional induction of electric dipoles drives continuum absorptions for N2, O2, CO2 (and by implication, need to add a paragraph) H2O

    Hope that helps.

  45. 145

    Nigel, #136–

    “It would really have helped if the article had stated these things clearly right at the beginning.”

    I doubt they knew. Hank is a really good Internet sleuth–IMO, quite literally an example to emulate.

  46. 146
    Norm says:

    Please post this to the Borehole, the only interesting thread on this website, which is about as interested in scientific debate as my child is in alternatives to ice cream. Way to fight the good fight, Victor. I admire your patience.

  47. 147
    MA Rodger says:

    InsideClimetNews is reporting that Judge William Alsup and his questioning has been provided with the wisdom of two learned groups, one group a set of eight numpties headed by Monckton & Soon and the other group the trio Happer, Koonin & Lindzen. The trio are reported presenting a message that is summed up saying:-

    “To summarize this overview, the historical and geological record suggests recent changes in the climate over the past century are within the bounds of natural variability. Human influences on the climate (largely the accumulation of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion) are a physically small (1%) effect on a complex, chaotic, multicomponent and multiscale system. Unfortunately, the data and our understanding are insufficient to usefully quantify the climate’s response to human influences. However, even as human influences have quadrupled since 1950, severe weather phenomena and sea level rise show no significant trends attributable to them. Projections of future climate and weather events rely on models demonstrably unfit for the purpose. As a result, rising levels of CO2 do not obviously pose an immediate, let alone imminent, threat to the earth’s climate.”

    So the GCM are “unfit for purpose” and this proves AGW isn’t an imminent threat, or even an immediate one. That’s good because I’m not sure I would recognise the difference between imminent and immediate threats. Presumably the “1%” is the size of the net AGW forcing relative to the climate’s solar warming.

    Yet for me the award for ‘humour’ surely goes to Monckton et al. who inform Judge Alsup that they “have recently discovered and corrected a long-standing error of physics in the climate models” that shows any climate change due to human causes will be “too small and slow to be harmful and will prove beneficial.” So AGW is apparently non-immediate/imminent, and also non-big to boot, which is a shame if it is now expected to be beneficial – good but only in a tiny way.
    This grand finding from Monckton et al. is based on some very opportune work that is so hot-off-the-press it hasn’t even arrived at the press. It was apparently submitted for publication just three days before Judge Alsup issued his list of questions. So it “has not yet passed peer review.” However, “it is simple enough to allow the Court, which has earned a unique reputation for rapid mastery of scientific questions, to understand it completely and to verify that [the] result is correct.” Crickey!! What a stroke of luck that such a momentus piece of work appears in such a timely fashion! (Mind, it could prove embarrasing for Happer et al who arrived at their own ‘small’ – ‘too slow’ findings without the benefit of this ground-breaking work to advise them.)

  48. 148
    Hank Roberts says:

    See also:

    Five cities and counties in California that are suing fossil fuel companies for damages triggered by climate change are now at the center of a legal paradox created by conflicting decisions from two federal court judges reviewing nearly identical claims.

    The judicial collision course was set Friday when a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that climate change lawsuits by two counties and one city were best adjudicated in California state courts. The ruling came less than a month after another federal court judge ruled that a similar climate case, brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, should be tried in federal court.

  49. 149

    KW 141: You have absolutely, completely missed the point. . . If I were in the sixties or seventies (like I was) and a cancer researcher told me that smoking caused cancer but continued to smoke, I would be far less inclined to trust them.

    BPL: I got your point. I was just making fun of it because it’s so patently stupid.

  50. 150
    cody says:

    # 2. Re; #2 – I myself had remained stumped for years on end, as to why a ‘symmetrical’ molecule, such as Two heavy Oxygens welded in syzygy with a central smaller Carbon pivot atom, inspires a “Dipole Moment.” After all, that molecule is like an old 1950’s Studebaker: coming and going, it looks the same. In fact, it is symmetrical about its Pitch, Roll, and Yaw Axes. So, what gives? When Doc Archer covered this @ his U. of Chicago MOOC, he held his arms up., fists doubling as the ‘Oxies,’ & head as the Pivot-Carbon, and proceeded to attempt a Hoosier’s version of the Funky Chicken.

    That done it! I got it in a nanosecond. 
    Perhaps in addition to graphics, some presentation whiz can snip in ten seconds of video—just a thought. Or a brief cartoon could be fashioned to depict Just How, quantum mechanically, a passing electro-negative ‘wave-field’ disturbance, a momentary peak of traveling electro-negativity say, would, passing the CO2 IR ACTOR @ the speed of light, encounter a momentarily BENT molecule, W/a dipole similar to Water’s 104.45° bond & bend angle, though by far, not as large. A similar cartoon might be crafted to show why (or how) the EQUIVALENT dumbbell bulk Oxygens and Nitrogens, wave-cancel, and thus Fail to Interact W/passing Infrared waves, or photons. [An aside, still beyond my Pay Grade: Fifty years ago maybe, I had heard that DUST PARTICALS scatter short visible wavelengths (~450 nanometer), giving the sky its blueness, and when high winds agitate greater dust, it gives us more deeply reddened, more spectacular, sunsets. Then recently I hear that, “no, N2 molecules by themselves” scatter most of the blue hues we see on a ‘clear’ day. Any Crowd help W/this detail? cam]

    { Incidentally, the Judge might benefit by a convenient, ‘Hand Hold.’ What enabled Joseph Fourier, travelling for his first visit ever to an arid zone (Egypt’s Deserts, W/Napoleon), to FEEL the rapidly chilling evening air? Which contrasted so markedly with his prior lifetime experiences in moist-air, France. The contrast registered sufficiently as to inspire the investigations which lead to his being credited with the DISCOVERY of the Greenhouse Effect. Nearly all humans have experienced directly, hot lingering humid discomfort–heat, which when trapped-in by the IR’s interaction with H2O vapors, lingers long into the nighttime air in some places (think ‘Foggy Bottom’ in August, in Washington D.C.). So different from Phoenix or Vegas, say. }